FAU Football Fall Camp Breakdown
FAU will open fall camp Saturday morning and embark on year two of the Carl Pelini era.
While a lot has changed since last August, some of the same questions still linger. The Owls return 15 starters from a squad that strung together just three wins last season. This summer has given Pelini a chance to generate some momentum and develop depth on both sides of the ball.
The Owl's will hit the practice fields for three weeks, before game preparation begins for the season opener at Miami on August 30th.
Here are some things to focus onů
The Key Individuals: If FAU wants to improve on last year's record and take the next step as a program, these five players will have to step up and preform against C-USA competition.
1. Melvin German QB - We all know the story with German, if he makes the grades, he plays. FAU needs a quarterback, and Pelini has made it clear from day one that German (pictured above) is his guy.
2. Mustafa Johnson C - Johnson is the vocal leader of the offense and plays with his emotions. Prior to spring practices he spent time organizing workouts for the offensive line and teaching techniques. The Owls need Johnson to play at an all-conference level and anchor a young, but feeble line.
3. Andre Kirk LB - Linebacker is one of FAU's strengths, and Kirk is the motor in the middle. A first-team all-conference selection, Kirk isn't the most athletic linebacker, but he finds the ball and plays physical at the line. Losing David Hinds will hurt the defense, and Kirk will need to live up to his preseason billing.
4. William Dukes WR - Duplicating 979 yards from last season will be difficult, but Dukes is the most electric player on the team. Coaches have wanted Dukes to put on weight this offseason because they fear teams that will press him with a physical corner. Dukes needs to mesh with both quarterbacks in German and Quez Johnson.
5. Cre'von LeBlanc DB - LeBlanc started nine games last season as a true freshman and is one of the most talented players on the roster. He made strides last year in fall camp and was able to become a key component of the defense in the nickel package. A repeat performance could seize more potential from this super sophomore.
Now's their chance: Fall camp always provides an outlet for players to make a difference and compete, and these three individuals are on the spot.
1. Stern Vile OL - Traditionally JUCO transfers are brought in to make an impact, but that wasn't the case last season with Vile. The Dutchman found himself in a reserve role and never started a game. There are a few gaps in the line heading into camp and Vile, who is now a senior, will have an opportunity to fill one of them.
2. Cory Henry DE - A three-year starter, Henry is on pace to finish his career with just under 10 sacks. Having came to FAU with loads of potential, Henry has seen time at both linebacker and defensive end, but has never became a standout performer. This will be his final year with the Owls and last chance to put it all together.
3. Tony Moore RB - Buried on the depth chart in 2012, Moore burst onto the scene with a sound spring earlier this year. With Travis Jones no longer in the backfield, the stout redshirt junior could see some carries alongside starter Jonathan Wallace if he picks up where he left off.
Impact Freshman: Pelini isn't afraid to play true freshman, and these three freshman could see themselves on the field this season.
1. DJ Juste QB - The initial word out of summer workouts is that Juste has physically impressed his peers. There is a slim chance that Juste could contribute this season at quarterback, but the dual-threat could see time at wide receiver or on special teams. If anything, Juste is ideal for mocking opposing spread quarterbacks in practice.
2. Jay Warren RB - There is a log-jam at running back, but Warren has the most "college ready" body out of anybody in the signing class. Warren trained alongside San Francisco 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore this summer and competed in the state finals for weightlifting. He is a prime candidate for special teams duty.
3. Austin Bland OL - One of the highest rated recruits in program history, Bland comes to FAU at a time when he has the best chance to play as a true freshman. He spent this past summer trying to gain as much weight as possible, and will look to compete right away.
Position Battles: There are a handful of jobs up for grabs, but these two position battles should be the most interesting to watch over the course of the month.
1. DT - Redshirt freshman Shalom Ogbonda has put on 20-pounds and is challenging Trevon Coley for the starting spot alongside Brandin Bryant. Coley started every game last season as a true freshman and even saw time on offense as an extra blocker. Both players should be ideal candidates in the middle.
2. S - Jeremy McKnight, Winfred Strickland and Damian Parms all started games at safety last season and fared well. Now with touted JUCO transfer Marc Mauro on campus, the competition for the two starting safety spots should be one of the most intense in camp. Parms had a nice spring, but nothing is finalized.
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